ON-FARM animal welfare and biosecurity management practices are key elements of the Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) program and compliance with these additional elements will be enforced under the program’s random audit system from July 2018.
These two additional requirements were added to the five existing elements – property risk assessment, safe and responsible animal treatments, safe livestock feed, preparation for dispatch, and livestock transactions and movements – in October 2017, with compliance set to be enforced in the approximately 2000 random on-farm audits carried out nationally each year.
To meet the biosecurity requirements under the enhanced LPA program, every LPA accredited producer needs to have a Farm Biosecurity Plan in place and implement this on their farm.
LPA accredited producers must also be able to demonstrate that their on-farm handling of livestock is consistent with the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines. Those responsible for livestock management need to have a copy of the Standards and Guidelines, be familiar with its content, complete the LPA Learning module, and advise and oversee others handling livestock.
AUS-MEAT auditor Brendan Ryan conducts LPA audits from Werribee in south-western Victoria to Naracoorte in South Australia, and up to the NSW border. Since February, he has been covering animal welfare and biosecurity as part of the audits – however, in order to allow producers to familiarise themselves with the expanded program, compliance with the new areas was not being enforced.
“Most producers are on the right track in meeting the requirements, they just need to spend some more time demonstrating what they are doing,” Mr Ryan said.
“When they are notified about an audit, my advice to producers is to not panic, they just need to read the information pack carefully and they will know what to do.
“The Biosecurity Plan doesn’t need to be a massive document. Producers just need to think about the things they do with regards to biosecurity on their own farm, and document it using a template.
“It’s things producers do every day - managing and recording the introduction and movement of livestock; controlling people, equipment and vehicles entering the property - where practical; and monitoring and managing the health of their livestock.
“A Biosecurity Plan template has been developed to help producers complete this requirement which really helps to make it easy.”
Mr Ryan said in terms of on-farm animal welfare, producers must be able to show they have completed appropriate training in animal welfare.
“They need to take a look at the LPA Learning module which asks practical questions about animal care. Complete the module, print out the completion certificate, and they’ll make their auditor happy,” Mr Ryan said.
Jo Quigley, Chief Operating Officer of the Integrity Systems Company (ISC), which manages the LPA program, said customer confidence in Australian red meat underpins the success and growth of Australia’s livestock industry, and protects the livelihoods of more than 200,000 producers.
“Under LPA, on-farm systems are required to ensure the management and handling of livestock is consistent with customer expectations from more than 100 global markets that buy Australian red meat,” Ms Quigley said.
“We must be able to prove we treat our animals ethically and manage them in a manner that minimises the risk of infectious disease. The LPA audits verify on-farm practices and help to provide that proof for our customers.”
All LPA accredited producers may be selected through the random audit system. Property Identification Codes (PICs) are selected for audit at random from the database of all LPA-accredited producers, including producers with just a few livestock.
Resources to help producers plan for audits are available at: www.mla.com.au/integrity.
Find the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines at: animalwelfarestandards.net.au.